Trading worlds: Afghan merchants across modern frontiers
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This paper is an anthropological study of a little recognised yet rapidly expanding global trading network that is made-up of Afghan merchants who are active as commodity traders in Central Asia and Europe. It contests one-sided images that depict traders from this and other conflict regions as immoral profiteers or international drug smugglers. The paper emphasises, rather, the active role these merchants play in an ever-more globalised political economy. Afghan merchants forge and occupy critical economic niches, both at home and abroad: from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia, to the ports of the Black Sea; and in global cities such as Moscow and London, the traders' activities are shaping the material and cultural lives of the diverse populations among whom they live. Through an exploration of the life histories, trading activities and everyday experiences of these mobile merchants, the paper shows that traders' worlds are informed by complex forms of knowledge, skill, ethical sensibility, and long-lasting human relationship.